The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the middle of struggling through several games, most recently blowing a lead against the Golden State Warriors at home.
The losses piling up have reportedly created a cloud of uncertainty around the Cavs as the team attempts to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year, hoping to unseat the Warriors as champions.
Isaiah Thomas’ return has not brought about immediate results but the Cavs do have an extra trump card they could choose to use if they wish: the Brooklyn Nets first round pick traded by the Celtics for Kyrie Irving.
The pick, expected to be a valuable one in a very talented draft, could be used in a trade to bring in more help from LeBron James but it seems unlikely that the Cavs will use it.
With the trade deadline looming Feb. 8, the Cavaliers do have some options, including trading their 2018 first-round pick, which could fetch interest on the market. In addition, they also have Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick in this year’s draft, acquired in the Kyrie Irving deal. However, several league sources told ESPN that the Cavs would prefer to hold onto the pick as a potential franchise-resetting asset should LeBron James leave as a free agent in July.
This is a promising development for the Lakers on two counts.
First: it shows that the Cavs’ concerns about LeBron leaving are legitimate. If James is willing to move on from his hometown team, then the first step in the Lakers hopes to sign the best player in the world can be completed.
Secondly, the Cavs’ fears in trading the Nets pick potentially takes them out of the running for Paul George. With no cap space, Cleveland’s only path to signing the Thunder star is via trade and Bird Rights. Their being out of the picture, for now, takes away one competitor for the forward’s talents.
Obviously, with another month left until the trade deadline and six months until free agency, anything can still change. The Lakers ability to attract free agents is still a major question. But for now, this is more hope to hold onto.